December 22nd, 2016

A New Year’s DON’T List for Teachers

Teachers have enough demands on them already without making New Year’s resolutions. We thought we would help lighten your load in the New Year with a few things you can take off your to-do list.


1. DON’T sacrifice all your evenings and weekends grading.

We get it. Sometimes your planning period is sabotaged. You may not have any breaks in the day at all to plan, let alone grade. Yet, these things must get done.

Our point is simply not to assume every evening and weekend is lost to the grading abyss.

Have you ever heard of Parkinson’s Law? “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” If we dedicate our Sunday afternoon (which turns into Sunday evening) for grading, it will take all that available time to complete. If you assume you have to spend the time after the kids go to bed grading, for example, your evening will be spent grading. If you give yourself a deadline or scheduled amount of time, you’re more likely to focus and knock out that task.

Set a grading and planning schedule and stick to it.

Promise yourself you’ll leave by 4 pm every afternoon and only spend 3 hours Sunday grading, for example. Maybe even stretch that goal and get all your grading done after school so you can enjoy your weekend free of grading responsibilities– our favorite kind of weekend!


2. DON’T grade everything yourself.

General business wisdom says to do what you do best and outsource the rest.

We know what you’re thinking: You can’t exactly hire someone to grade your papers, or can you?

Of course there are some subjects and assignments where the grading must be done by your eyes; however, we humbly suggest two alternatives:

1) GradeCam: (You saw that coming, didn’t you?) Turn every possible assignment into a scanning opportunity.

Even if your assignment isn’t multiple choice, you can create a rubric to assign points. You could also save yourself time by entering grades into the gradebook with score forms or credit forms.

2) Students: With all the assignments remaining that can’t be put into a scannable form, you could have students grade their own papers in class or peer review.

Consider the advice of William Glasner on how we learn.

“We Learn . . .
10% of what we read
20% of what we hear
30% of what we see
50% of what we see and hear
70% of what we discuss
80% of what we experience
95% of what we teach others.”
~ William Glassner

So, you’re grading fewer papers AND helping your students comprehend the lesson. #WINWIN


3. DON’T feel guilty.

So much is demanded of you as a teacher.

The students expect you to show up every school day with a plan. They expect you to tell them what that plan is every day and they expect it will be based on what they need to know.

Your principal expects you to not only have a plan but, in many cases, submit that plan ahead of time. Your principal also expects you to do all your paperwork, attend all your meetings, coordinate with your team teachers and, oh yeah, do all that other stuff the students expect you to do.

Not to mention the demands of your personal life once you leave those classroom walls.

Sometimes these demands can make it feel like you’re required to be superhuman. We believe being a teacher is a superpower in itself but must admit you cannot literally do it all.

Get rid of the guilt.

Stop feeling guilty for that genius idea you didn’t get around to implementing.

Stop feeling guilty for that stack of papers on the corner of your desk that never got filed before Christmas break.

Stop feeling guilty for not responding to that parent’s email.

Stop feeling guilty for not getting to that one kid that needed extra attention on a certain skill.

Stop feeling guilty for blanking on that student’s name (you have hundreds after all!).

You are a great teacher. You cannot possibly do it all.

Prioritize the things that NEED to get done – one of which is usually grading – and let go of the guilt.

Teachers have it hard enough without a long list of New Year’s Resolutions. Help yourself out by resolving to remove the guilt, take back your evenings and weekends, and grade less this year!